29 July 2017 | Arafura Sea, North Australia
07 July 2017 | Near Cape Yorkt Australia
06 July 2017 | Margaret Bay, Australia
02 August 2016 | Mooloolaba Anchorage
16 August 2017
As anyone who travels knows, its one thing to read about and prepare for a trip to a foreign country, but its quite another when you find yourself suddenly and completely immersed in a different culture - with all of the sights, sounds and smells of a bustling city. Kupang, West Timor in Indonesia is nothing like our last port in Australia, its nothing like any of the countries we've sailed to since leaving Canada, and we're definitely not in Kansas any more!
Shortly after spotting land Tuesday morning, we quickly learned why its so important to arrive in daylight and to keep a sharp eye out for small fishing boats, fishing nets (some strewn across an entire mile), and floating bamboo shacks. As we approached the city, we listened to Muslim call to prayer amplified over loud speakers, set anchor in the harbour, and hit the sack.
The next morning we had an early appointment with Charles, our Agent, who explained that we needed to get an early start to complete the long and convoluted check-in process at four separate offices, with multiple copies of numerous forms. And wow, are we glad we had his assistance. A six hour process (in an air conditioned vehicle with a driver) could have taken days to complete on our own. The traffic in Kupang can best be described as organized chaos. Thousands of scooters loaded with numerous people moving in unpredictable directions and somehow managing to avoid collisions. Our first day was certainly an adventure - and the next morning at the Market was just as enlightening!
Finally Moving On
11 August 2017 | Darwin
We have been in Australia for 21 months (including the time we spent at home) and it seems like unknown forces want to keep us here. We have blogged about the rudder bearing issue before.
So when we arrived in Darwin we planned a quick turnaround to pick up our Indonesian visas. Since arriving it has instead been a marathon of boat projects (I thought I was done with that in Cairns).
First, the batteries were close to flat the day after arriving in Darwin and as they are 6 years old I decided to have them replaced. Once installed I went to charge them and realized that our new alternator (well new'ish' at 2 years) was not working. I also determined that the external regulator was malfunctioning. Luckily I have two spare alternators, so I sent out the better of the two to be serviced and reinstalled it yesterday. The regulator is not essential and will await replacement at a later date.
The infamous forward head now has a new strainer after the cheap one (only one available) I installed in Brisbane stared to leak again. I love working under the sink!
Then there was the outboard motor that would only run on choke. You would think I would learn to run the carb dry. A thorough disassembly and cleaning of the carb solved that problem.
The new dingy now has new tie downs made up by a local sailmaker. I thought the old ones were ok but Kim wasn't convinced.
We also installed and worked through the setup of a replacement to our new satellite phone system (another blog to come) that now seems to be fully functional.
So all in all, for a quick stop to pick up our visas in Darwin it has been a busy week. Looking forward to some quiet bays and diving in Indonesia.
So Little Time
10 August 2017
We thought our projects would be behind us by the time we arrived in Darwin, but alas, this was not to be the case.
I'm taking a few moments out from our To-Do List to jot down a little update while Tom consults with a fellow cruiser (who got halfway to Indonesia when his transmission failed, requiring he and his wife to spin around and limp back too Darwin for repairs... sound familiar?).
A couple of days after we arrived here Tom noticed that the batteries weren't holding a charge... hmmmm... so he investigated and determined that the alternator was malfunctioning. Oh joy. He pulled it out and replaced it with a spare (this is why experienced cruisers always seem to be packed to the gunnels with stuff and seem to live in a constant state of disarray. Great therapy for neat freaks and anyone with control issues!).
Fortunately he found a mechanic to take a look at the alternator in question as well as a backup to the backup. Hey, you never know when you're going to need a spare...
On a positive note we've used our opportunity here to attend to B priority items like replacing sun and saltwater damaged webbing for our dinghy hold-down ratchets, replacing broken grommets on our bimini, as well as the tar-sludge-laden line that we use to hoist our outboard motor (the tar sludge was compliments of the filthy travel-lift in Cairns, so is the snapped stainless life-ring hook - but I digress).
Long story short, our 'explore' priority has been downgraded from Level A to C, so we could attend to other more pressing items. But I have to say that we have truly enjoyed the ambiance of Cullen Bay Marina and surrounding area (clean, quiet, convenient, no swell) and everyone we've met have been very friendly. This winter weather has been sweltering. I can't even imagine what the summer is like here! But multiple bike rides each day for boat parts and services, clear-out procedures, tourist visa requirements and provisioning are a great way to create your own breeze.
I'm conflicted about leaving. The 'North Country' is quite unique. I'd love to spend more time here, there's so much we'd like to see and do - but if we want to catch up with fellow Rally participants we really need to skidaddle.
Looks like a Friday departure from the Marina, and we may anchor in Fanny Bay for a night to wait for friends.
Back On Track
03 August 2017
It was certainly more challenging than it could have been but now that we've reached Darwin (Yippee!), our technical issues and scheduling concerns are behind us. Filed away in our 'Excellent Adventure' memory box under 'M' for 'its only money', and 'T' for 'tests, tenacity and timelines' which are like oil and water for sailors - they don't mix well.
It's really, really hot here. The moment the sun peeks over the horizon (tardy at nearly 07:00!) the cool night air is smothered. By 08:00 it's blazing hot. And it's winter!
We motor sailed the final day of our passage to 'put some miles in the bank'. Tides and currents are strong in this area, and we had pre-booked a diver to treat the underside of our boat (for biosecurity purposes) at 08:00 yesterday. We made good time and actually had to slow ourselves down to just over 2 knots in the wee hours to avoid entering the bay and tying up to the pontoon outside the locks at Cullen Bay in the dark. Then we had our first lock entering experience - daunting the first time, especially with only two persons onboard, but our lock master was considerate, opening and closing the locks at each end slowly so the rushing water filled and exited the chamber slowly. We played tug of war with the current, maintaining the right tension of our ropes on poles along the chamber walls to keep our boat from doing a pirouette as the swirling water rose and fell. And now we're in a great Marina with lots of amenities and restaurants so we're happy as clams.
Looks like we'll be here for a week - travel visas take time, so it's time to explore a bit! (And take care of a few boat projects - do they ever really end?...)